In 2013 I gave birth to my daughter naturally without an epidural. During the pregnancy I put on around 20 kilos. I lost the extra weight quickly as I was breastfeeding and I have a fast metabolism. However I have only just come to realise that my body is still not back to the way that it used to be and it probably never will be. Don't get me wrong, I am not lamenting about the loss of my previous form, more I am realising that changes took place during the pregnancy to my body that are irreversible.
There's the giving birth bit that of course changes things!! But also the pregnancy, carrying that extra 20kgs for 9 months alters the way you move, you protect your body, your back, your abdomen, you learn to move without using various muscle groups and you become aware of a whole new shape, and then all of a sudden the majority of the weight goes when the baby is born, water retention reduces and you are half the size you were a week ago!
I started practising yoga around 4 weeks after giving birth, I felt ready and I needed to do it for my own wellbeing. I began gently but quickly felt strong enough to progress to a more demanding practice. And now 2 years later I realise that I am still not working my core muscles as effectively as I did before the pregnancy, I taught my core to be lazy and lazy it remains!!! I can do sit ups, press ups, core training during my classes but back in everyday life I don't use my tummy muscles anymore like I used to, I trained myself to stop using them and I forgot to train myself back again.
When I started back with yoga I progressed quickly instead of taking more time to build up muscle again and I began to rely on my overly flexible joints. And here's the point, because we go from around 80kgs to 65kgs in such a short space of time we think we are back to where we started from. But we aren't. We actually never will be as our bodies fundamentally change after giving birth. Our bones move, we aren't physically the same as we were before. I have problems with my sacrum that I never used to have. And it's this illusion that persuades us that we should be the same, because on the exterior we are almost back to how we used to be.
Now I am having to go back to basics, revisiting postures to train my lazy muscles into firing again and it's hard, my thighs seem the hardest to train, it's like I can't even find muscles there to strengthen because my brain doesn't know how to turn them on, I've been dropping into my joints so much to compensate.
If you are reading this and you feel the same way, don't despair, we can rebuild muscle with the proper approach, mindful and respectful of the change that has taken place in a loving space of acceptance and kindness towards ourselves. And if you feel like the baby weight is never shifting even though you go to the gym, you run, whatever you choose to do, be mindful of how you move in everyday life and not just exercising because maybe you are like me and still not using your core effectively OUTSIDE of your workout. Take a moment to train your brain to ask the question, am I using the muscles I could be using here, or am I slouching, dropping into my joints, taking an easy way out! If you need more help on this topic please have a look at my Powhow class page where you can click on the videos tab to find a workshop on alignment and using your core in everyday life.